A gunman is dead after a shooting at a New York City cathedral

A shooter opened fire outside the church before police returned fire. By Alec Snyder, Sheena Jones and Alaa Elassar, CNN

(CNN) -- A gunman who opened fire on the steps of a New York City cathedral on Sunday moments after an outdoor Christmas concert ended was shot and killed by responding police officers, authorities said.

A choir that had just finished Christmas caroling at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine was lingering atop the cathedral steps when the suspect, who had two handguns, approached the church doors and opened fire into the air, police said.

Two NYPD officers and a sergeant, who were present at the scene, opened fire, striking the gunman in the head, a police source said. NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea hailed the officers as heroes during a press conference Sunday.

The suspect was yelling "kill me," according to multiple witnesses on the scene, Shea said. He said a motive for the shooting is not yet clear.

The gunman -- a man in his 50s -- was pronounced dead at St. Luke's Hospital late Sunday afternoon, a law enforcement source told CNN.

"Thankfully, none of the attendees were hit," Isadora Wilkenfeld, a spokesperson for the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, said in a statement.

"It is horrible that our choir's gift to New York City, a much-needed afternoon of song and unity, was cut short by this shocking act of violence. We will remain strong, together, and serve as a safe space for prayer, meditation and celebration during the upcoming holiday season."

Two semi-automatic firearms were retrieved from the scene, along with a bag believed to belong to the suspect containing a full can of gasoline, wire, rope, multiple knives and a bible, Shea said.

The NYPD will continue to review body camera footage and the incident is under investigation, Shea said.

Correction: A previous version of this story mischaracterized the choir. They were lingering atop the church steps before the shooting.

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